Can you feel it? That palpable sense of excitement, so thick in the air that you can almost reach out and caress it? I can practically taste it everywhere I look. I surround myself by Zelda, and I always have a hand on the lifeblood of the Zelda community, always feel it ebbing and flowing with the news and the release of new games. And right now the collective heart of not only Zelda fans but the gaming community as a whole is racing at breakneck speed.
This is an unprecedented time for Zelda fans. Never before has a Zelda game released with the launch of a console. Never before has said release coincided with the introduction of a revolutionary new control method, a new way to immerse us into the game experience. Right now, when people think of their first experiences with a 3D world, their thoughts tend to gravitate towards Super Mario 64, the first game that gave us a sense of an open, 3-dimensional world. This time, Zelda is in that position, the flagship game for a new dimension of control that I believe will be just as important to the growth of the industry as the introduction of 3D environments was ten years ago. In ten years, people will look back on this upcoming release (less then three weeks away, now) in the same way they look back on Super Mario 64 and the advent of 3D gaming: with memories of awe and excitement, overpowering nostalgia and the knowledge that gaming is where it is today because of the trail blazed by this game and this system. A new generation of young Nintendo and Zelda fans will wake up on Christmas morning this December, open their new Wiis and Zelda, and be transformed in the same way I and many of you were by your first Zelda games. I almost envy them the upcoming experience, because nobody can get as lost in a game as a kid.
Zelda is poised to take the gaming world by storm, riding on the wave of the Wii to alter the course of gaming forever, and I love it.
Am I perhaps giving Zelda too much of the credit that is rightfully owed to the Wii? Probably. Am I being overly dramatic? Hell yes. Am I being realistic? Only time will tell. But that is the feeling I have now, the same thing I feel coming from the heart of the Zelda community: This game will be amazing, it will be a success, and it will propel the Wii to heights that Nintendo has not dreamed of since the days of the mighty Super NES. It is hard not to get caught up in such excitement, and why shouldn’t I? One of the best parts of being a fan of something is that overwhelming sense of anticipation, that feeling that you are balanced on the edge of your seat, about to take the plunge into the world of Hyrule once more. That feeling that always comes before a new game in the series is released.
The first game I ever experienced such excitement for was Majora’s Mask, six years ago. A lifetime ago, it seems like. I was 12 years old, and it was going to be the first Zelda game I got at release. I had, at this point, finished Link’s Awakening, A Link to the Past, and Ocarina of Time, my three favorite games (and they’ve remained that way ever since, and probably always will), and the thought of a new Zelda game sent shivers down my spine. I preordered it online, from Amazon if my memory serves. I had already downloaded and listened to the complete soundtrack from Zeldapower.com, and I was as psyched for the experience as it’s possible for a person to be. It took almost a week for the game to arrive at my house, and I think it was the longest week of my life. I spent the entire time outside in my family’s hammock, enjoying the fall weather and reading while I watched the road, just waiting for that UPS truck to stop at the end of our driveway. It was a beautiful fall, if I recall correctly. And I do; that week spent out on that hammock is branded into my mind. Hah, I just remembered something I always thought was hilarious: Majora’s Mask was released on the same day as the Playsation 2, Nintendo’s defiant message that they could combat the PS2 with just Zelda.
Zoom forward a bit, and you’ll find me waiting for the Wind Waker. I preordered it online again, but this time I wasn’t willing to wait a week! I paid for 1-day mail, at some ungodly price. Once again, I was consumed with excitement, the feeling that a new Zelda game was coming and the future of the gaming industry was bright. Then my Dad told me that we were going on a two week vacation to Florida in the beginning of March. Right when the game was released. Oh, woe was me. I think I take it back, the week I spent waiting for Majora’s Mask wasn’t the worst week of my life… That vacation in Florida was much worse. I eased my pain by spending the entire two weeks, except when I was forced to go out to the beach, on Zelda forums. I think I got almost two thousand posts at Zelda Universe alone during that time, and something similar at Zelda Legends, solidifying my future as moderator and more at both of them.
And here we are again. Time has worked it’s horrors on me; I am no longer an excitable kid of twelve, or even of 15. My sense of excitement is more sluggish, harder to call up, and I will never be as excited for a game as I once was for Majora’s Mask. But it’s still there, and I am determined to enjoy it.
Savor this excitement, because in a scant month or two, we’ll all have finished the game. Hopefully we’ll all have loved it to death, and with any luck I and the other webmasters will be working our asses off trying to appease everyone who wants TP content. If there is one thing I have learned over time, it is that there is one terrible thing about a Zelda game’s release: The excitement, which has been boiling over for so long, keeping us on a Zelda-induced high, leaves us. It takes quite some time to get used to normality again, and the knowledge that we now have a few more years to go before the next big Zelda release. When I finished the Wind Waker, after a scant two weeks of purposefully drawing the game out longer so that it didn’t have to end, I was a very sad person. It is a bittersweet joy, to finish a new Zelda game, to face reality and know that the magical experience, however complete, is now over. And one I will have to taste once more, soon.
So for now, my friends and fellow fans: enjoy this time, and pay no overdue notice to the melancholy ramblings of this old fan.